By Torbjørn Ringdal Hansen
With the black pieces, Magnus Carlsen managed to gradually outplay Fabiano Caruana in their first game of the 2018 World Championship match. In a strategically tricky position, Caruana failed to resist Magnus’ pressure, but with an objectively winning position, the champion started to drift, and the advantage slipped away.
A loss with the white pieces in the first round would have been the worst possible start for Caruana. However, the way things turned out, everything is still open. After the drama in the first round, things have seemed to stabilize. Neither of the players have made any serious mistakes, and both have managed to push with a slight advantage.
It’s interesting that black has gotten the upper hand in all the games so far. I think most top players are working harder with their black repertoire than with white. When starting the game, you have the advantage of having a small initiative, which leaves some room for inaccuracies. With black, however, you are fighting for your life, and you need to be armed.
Magnus played brilliantly in the first part of the game in round one, and like many others, I was sure he was going to win.
Below you can see my thoughts at the moment when things started to go wrong. I believe the win slipped away because Magnus had successfully outplayed Caruana with positional means, and failed to catch the moment when it was time to play differently. Another important factor is the clock. Playing against an opponent in time trouble is never easy.
Let’s take a look!
Fabiano Caruana - Magnus Carlsen 2018 World Championship, Game 1
The move 38...Rg3 would have resulted in two passed pawns for Magnus. After going through the lesson Passed Pawns in the Magnus Trainer I'm sure you will wonder why he didn't play this move.
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Photo by David Llada